What Is Ventricular Fibrillation?
Ventricular fibrillation is commonly referred to as "V-Fib" or "VF." It occurs when your heart beats very rapidly but chaotically instead of pumping blood normally through your body like it should. This can lead to serious complications and even death if not treated quickly with CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and an electric shock called defibrillation.
People who have recently had a heart attack (myocardial infarction) are at risk of ventricular fibrillation because the damaged muscle tissue can't respond properly to electrical impulses that control heartbeat. In this case, the heart may beat too fast (tachycardia) or too slow (bradycardia). These abnormal rhythms can cause ventricular fibrillation if they're not treated.
Causes Of Ventricular Fibrillation
Ventricular fibrillation can happen when there is damage to the electrical system of your heart. The electrical system is made up of special cells called pacemaker cells or sinus node cells. They send out electrical signals that control how your heart beats and keeps it beating regularly.
If these cells become damaged or die, they can't send out an electrical signal, which means your heart won't be able to pump blood properly. This is what causes ventricular fibrillation. The most common cause of this type of damage is a heart attack . Other causes include:
coronary artery disease;
cardiomyopathy (weak or enlarged heart muscle); or
arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm).
Symptoms Of Ventricular Fibrillation
The most common symptom of ventricular fibrillation is chest pain, which usually comes on suddenly and may be described as a squeezing or burning feeling in the chest or abdomen. Other symptoms include:
Rapid pulse rate (tachycardia) or slow pulse rate (bradycardia);
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing due to low blood pressure (hypotension) and fluid buildup in the lungs (pulmonary edema); and
Confusion, weakness or unconsciousness.
If you or someone you're with has these symptoms, it's important to seek emergency medical care because these symptoms can be life threatening and fast treatment is key to preventing death or other serious complications.
Treatment For Ventricular Fibrillation
If you or someone else is having a heart attack, call 911 immediately.
In most cases, ventricular fibrillation is treated with CPR and an electrical shock to the heart. Ventricular fibrillation usually responds well to defibrillation, but it's not always successful. If your heart isn't beating properly after being shocked, your doctor may give you medications to help restore normal heart rhythm.
Buy An AED, Buy Protection From V-Fib
What would you do if you were with a loved one when they suddenly collapsed and went into V-Fib? More importantly, what would happen if no one was there to help them? When the unexpected happens, it's nice to have access to immediate help—that's where AEDs come in.
While AEDs will not cure heart disease, or determine the underlying cause of cardiac arrest, they can buy time for medical staff to treat other potentially fatal complications and get the patient to a hospital setting. With the right team behind you and an AED on hand, you can experience a positive outcome from V-Fib and sudden cardiac arrest.